Weirdness of the iPhone Camera

One of the things the iPhone has got a lot of stick for is the camera. It stayed at 2MP when the 3G version came out. I didn’t think that would be a problem; actually because it’s always with me I’ve used it a few times and the picture quality (not the resolution) bugs me. Review said it had good quality for a phone camera, that’s as maybe, but phone cameras are awful. Plus it does weird stuff like this (it is, I have discovered, a known issue) which makes me wonder how this camera actually works.

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And this.

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If Apple were to make it work with video, however, all will be forgiven.

About Simon Wood

E-learning officer, lapsed mathematician, Doctor Who fan and garden railway builder. See simonwood.info for more…

10 thoughts on “Weirdness of the iPhone Camera

  1. Is that second one strange because the ground is warped or that the person wasn’t there when that picture was taken?

    I hadn’t heard of the warped picture effect, but a quick search turned up this link at Apple Insider. It implies that (for some people anyway) if you’re moving the camera when the shutter is activated this is the result rather than a blurry picture.

    Personally, when I tried, I didn’t got neither warped picture nor a mysterious figure appearing out of nowhere – I just got a blurry picture.

  2. Is that second one strange because the ground is warped or that the person wasn’t there when that picture was taken?

    I hadn’t heard of the warped picture effect, but a quick search turned up this link at Apple Insider. It implies that (for some people anyway) if you’re moving the camera when the shutter is activated this is the result rather than a blurry picture.

    Personally, when I tried, I didn’t got neither warped picture nor a mysterious figure appearing out of nowhere – I just got a blurry picture.

  3. Follow-up: I took my iPhone outside in the bright sunlight and I can consistently recreate the warped effect. Once there’s enough light, it’s almost as if the picture is being recorded like television scan lines rather than like a film camera’s shutter mechanism.

    To recreate: Hold the camera in your right hand (or your hand of choice) in a horizontal position, as if to take a landscape picture – the the “top” of the phone pointing to the left. Hold down the shutter button and then start to move the phone in an arc until it is back to horizontal with the “top” to the right. I found a speed that took about 1 to 2 seconds to complete the arc worked well. The moment you start to move your arm, release the shutter button.

    I loaded a few up to Flickr

  4. Follow-up: I took my iPhone outside in the bright sunlight and I can consistently recreate the warped effect. Once there’s enough light, it’s almost as if the picture is being recorded like television scan lines rather than like a film camera’s shutter mechanism.

    To recreate: Hold the camera in your right hand (or your hand of choice) in a horizontal position, as if to take a landscape picture – the the “top” of the phone pointing to the left. Hold down the shutter button and then start to move the phone in an arc until it is back to horizontal with the “top” to the right. I found a speed that took about 1 to 2 seconds to complete the arc worked well. The moment you start to move your arm, release the shutter button.

    I loaded a few up to Flickr

  5. It’s the warpage rather than the fact its got me in it that makes it odd in my book.

    “It’s almost as if the picture is being recorded like television scan lines rather than like a film camera’s shutter mechanism.” You’ve put your finger on it there, I find it very bizarre. Surely this is the behaviour of a camera that is optimised for video being used to capture stills… So why can’t we use it for video?

  6. It’s the warpage rather than the fact its got me in it that makes it odd in my book.

    “It€™s almost as if the picture is being recorded like television scan lines rather than like a film camera€™s shutter mechanism.” You’ve put your finger on it there, I find it very bizarre. Surely this is the behaviour of a camera that is optimised for video being used to capture stills… So why can’t we use it for video?

  7. I put this to a friend of mine at work today, and he explained this is a problem with cameras that use cheap CMOS sensors. The problem is known as a rolling shudder.

    It is indeed that, rather than a simultaneous reading of the electrical values on the sensor chip, on the cheap chips, it is read serially from bottom to top, so if there’s motion, the upper parts of the picture are from later in time than the bottom.

    Drive past a vertical pole or tree and snap a picture as you pass and it will appear to be at an angle in the picture.

  8. I put this to a friend of mine at work today, and he explained this is a problem with cameras that use cheap CMOS sensors. The problem is known as a rolling shudder.

    It is indeed that, rather than a simultaneous reading of the electrical values on the sensor chip, on the cheap chips, it is read serially from bottom to top, so if there’s motion, the upper parts of the picture are from later in time than the bottom.

    Drive past a vertical pole or tree and snap a picture as you pass and it will appear to be at an angle in the picture.

  9. That makes a lot of sense.

    I’m still thinking you could get away with that hardware if your intention was to provide a camera for video capture.

    But with video disabled, and still photography supposed to be a feature, the iPhone camera is not, in the currently popular parlance “fit for purpose”.

  10. That makes a lot of sense.

    I’m still thinking you could get away with that hardware if your intention was to provide a camera for video capture.

    But with video disabled, and still photography supposed to be a feature, the iPhone camera is not, in the currently popular parlance “fit for purpose”.

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